Exercise Talisman Sabre 23, a U.S.-Australia exercise that includes multiple allies and partners, is all about deterrence, said U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Kevin Jarrard, assistant division commander of the 1st Marine Division.
Deterrence means preventing war, he said, and the way to do that is through having as many allies and partners as possible that have like-minded goals: a free and open Indo-Pacific region where nations abide by the rule of law.
Jarrard was in Queensland, Australia, this week, where U.S. Marines with Marine Rotational Force-Darwin 23 rigorously trained to repel enemy forces in a contested logistics environment.
This year marks the 10th iteration of Talisman Sabre, a biennial exercise designed to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific by strengthening partnerships and interoperability among key allies. The spelling of the name — sabre vs. saber — reflects which country is leading the exercise: Talisman Sabre when Australia leads and Talisman Saber when the U.S. leads.
Peace through strength is an important aspect of deterrence, Jarrard said. The Marine Corps is especially suited for this in the vastness of the Indo-Pacific region, which is largely a maritime environment where Marines can apply their expertise -- honed during World War II combat in the Pacific and refined by modern doctrine, tactics and equipment.
The Marine Corps, he said, is well-suited to operate over vast ocean distances aboard Navy ships and using Marine Corps aviation for close air support and insertion in inland locations.
Jarrard, who had combat tours in Iraq, said U.S. forces there had air superiority. In the Indo-Pacific region, a conflict could involve a peer adversary, so air superiority isn't a given.
A peer adversary would have advanced targeting capabilities, be it missile attacks against troops and equipment or hampering communications, he said.
To prevent that, Marines and allies participating in Talisman Sabre have dispersed their forces and moved them about frequently to avoid becoming big, fat targets, he said. Cyber measures are also being taken so command and control isn't compromised.
Also, casualties will have to be treated on the battlefield in a future war in the region because a large medical facility "in the rear," or away from the front lines, would present a juicy target for the enemy, he noted.
Corpsmen who treat wounds and injuries of these front-line Marines will be doing a lot more advanced care than they've traditionally done, as when helicopters could quickly evacuate casualties to field hospitals, he said.
Jarrard said he considers all Marines his sons and daughters, and he'll do everything he can to protect them and ensure they succeed on the battlefield should that become necessary.
"There is no better friend and no worse enemy than a U.S. Marine," he said.
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